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Providing solutions to the world’s most complex data management and recovery challenges
Tami Fratis is the CEO of IPR International – the Information Protection and Recovery Company, an IT infrastructure and services company that is based in Delaware and serves clients around the world. True to its name, IPR designs application solutions meant for complex technology challenges and focused on reliability and security. The company has provided solutions for a wide range of large, multilayered organizations such as billion-dollar financial institutions, healthcare networks, government agencies, and numerous public and private businesses. In addition to her role at IPR, Tami has served on the investment advisory committee for Ben Franklin Technology Partners, on the State of Delaware’s investment review board, as as director and chairman of the Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies (PACT).
EDWIN WARFIELD: How did you go from investor to CEO of IPR?
TAMI FRATIS: I got into the investment business with Safeguard Scientifics. I joined the venture funds there with Pete Musser, Ira Lubert, and Bob Keith, and became passionate about investing in entrepreneurs, helping entrepreneurs with their strategy and with their technology deployment. I had quite a bit of experience joining boards, and one of the boards that I joined was IPR International in 2003.
I joined that board because Phoenician Ventures, the fund I launched, made an investment in IPR. I had been on the board of IPR since the beginning. I knew Mike Emmi, the CEO, through my days at Safeguard, when Safeguard and SCT, Mike Emmi’s former company, were investing in education technology companies.
I was on the board since the beginning and the company went through a couple different permutations as the IT industry changed. It’s really changed dramatically since 2003. It went from internal computer IT functions to now, where we have everything on the cloud. When Mike acquired the company, we were providing digital backup for disaster recovery and when virtualization, which is now called “the cloud,” launched, we provided regulatory clouds for middle market and large enterprises. As virtualization became the cloud and all the articles started talking about the cloud, the cloud, the cloud, again I’m sitting on the board and the industry is changing, and the question was “How do we keep adapting and changing ourselves?”
Mike’s was wanting to retire the second time—he retired the first time from SCT—and his suggestion was “Why don’t we bring somebody in who has industry experience and do a strategic review of the company to figure out how to position the company best for the future?” I led the strategic planning process. I brought a gentleman in who had been the CEO of Blair Tech, and we did a strategic review. It seemed like he would be a great candidate also to be the CEO, so I recommended to the board that we hire him to come up from Florida and join the company as a CEO.
The board ultimately asked me if I would instead be the CEO since I knew the company, I’d been on the board since the very beginning, and the people liked me in the company. So, I ultimately did agree to join as the CEO as long as the gentleman I had suggested could join our board and help me as an industry advisor.
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